Fifth after Epiphany, Year B

Musical Reflection
God Loves Everyone by Ron Sexsmith



Lord of fierce compassion,
you name the forces of death
in our hearts and institutions
and even in the holy places:
lift us from the canopy of fear
that feeds on repression
and pushes away
what it cannot abide;
go with us
to dark and lonely places
where we can learn again
who we are called to be;
through Jesus Christ, the healer of creation.
First Reading
Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.
Second Reading
A Blessing

by Alice Walker

Don’t try so hard.
It comes in a shiver sometimes
Sometimes in a winter windowpane,
Wild with the unseeable
Frozen there in ice:
The shapes above clouds,
The score and the libretto of wind,
The plot of waves.
Don’t try so hard.
Sometimes it falls,
A flake at a time,
Into your life while you’re asleep.
Sometimes it comes as a winter
Waiting for storm, or ice, or thaw,
Or even wind,
And then the still air groans,
And the trees crack,
The swamp shudders,
And the woods thrill.
Sometimes it comes when you least
Expect it.
And sometimes it doesn’t.
Quiet, still, no voice (even small),
No whirlwind, no reply; no burning.
Just a bare winter bush.
This is God, too.

The space between stars,
Where noise goes to die,
And the space between atoms,
Where the charges thin out:
These are places, too.
The moment in the movement of the soul
When it all seems to stop,
Seized up.
This is true, too.
Ice is, also.
And dormancy.
And I don’t mean the stirring
Of seeds beneath the snow,
But the place between
And the moment before.
And I don’t mean a lightning bolt,
But what it passes through.
I don’t mean a dream,
But a dumb sleep.
“Not a thing” is something.
After the end,
And before the beginning,
Is time, too.
Let alone, don’t try so hard.
This is God, too.
All of you is.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:29-39

After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.

That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. The whole town gathered near the door. He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him.

Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. Simon and those with him tracked him down. When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!”

He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.” He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and throwing out demons.


Musical Reflection
I Don’t Ever Give Up by Patty Griffin


Silent Prayer
Caim Prayer, adapted

Circle us, Lord.
Keep comfort near
and discouragement afar.
Keep peace within
and turmoil out.
Keep protection near
and danger afar.
Keep hope within
and despair without.
Keep peace within
and anxiety without.

May you be a bright flame before me,
May you be a guiding star above me,
May you be a smooth path below me,
And a loving guide behind me,
Today, tonight, and forever.

The Lord’s Prayer

our Father and Mother,
in whom is heaven,
hallowed be your name,
followed be your royal way,
done be your will and rule,
throughout the whole creation.
With the bread we need for today,
feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test,
strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure,
spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil,
free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
Now and forever.

Musical Reflection
When You Are Who You Are by Gil Scott-Heron


May Christ, who draws the nations to himself,
teach us to love our enemies;
may Christ, who enters the water of baptism,
lead us to die to all but love;
may Christ, who gives new wine for the world,
turn our bitterness into joy;

and the blessing of God,
the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.



Artwork by Stephen Eichhorn

Invocation and Blessing from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection God Loves Everyone by Ron Sexsmith

Poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Poem A Blessing by Alice Walker

Musical Reflection I Don’t Ever Give Up by Patty Griffin

Caim Prayer

Lord’s Prayer from Human Rites: Worship Resources for an Age of Change

Musical Reflection When You Are Who You Are by Gil Scott-Heron

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